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Myth Maker

Sean Penn's brother looks back on nearly two decades of music.

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You’d think we were in the middle of a Michael Penn renaissance. Last month, the singer-songwriter released the career-spanning CD Palms & Runes, Tarot & Tea, oversaw an expanded reissue of his 2005 album Mr. Hollywood Jr., 1947, and launched a solo tour, which comes to town tonight. Fact is, everything sorta just came together at the same time, says Penn. “My career is spread out over three labels,” he says. “The companies merged, and they wanted to do a retrospective and get me involved.”

The 20-track Palms & Runes reaches back to “No Myth,” a 1989 hit, and goes all the way to Mr. Hollywood Jr. Nearly half of the songs are previously unreleased demos and outtakes. “I wanted to come up with something that made sense,” says Penn. “But they’re also songs I still feel very connected to.” Mr. Hollywood Jr., which was originally self-released, adds a bonus disc of live acoustic performances. “That album reached the people who were actively looking for it, but nobody else,” says Penn. Still, he doesn’t think of the anthology as the closing of one chapter and the opening of another. That happened with the last record, says Penn. “I put out Mr. Hollywood without any regard to anything but the music,” he says. “I was happy to put an end to the corporate music scene.”
Sun., May 6, 8 p.m.

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